How to Get from Information to Meaning: From Data to Journey Maps

From the article,”To Understand Consumer Data, Think Like an Anthropologist” in From Data to Action: a Harvard Business Review Insight Center Report, Susan Fournier and Bob Rietveld share:

“Corporate social-listening efforts are typically driven by econometricians, computer scientists, and IT technicians—the people who are experts in database management. They understand digital information, but they don’t always understand how to get from information to meaning.”

If you want meaning, you have to understand that customer behavior data is inherently qualitative. Fournier and Rietveld share a story about a pain-relief ointment consumer posted an online photo showing how he placed foil over the ointment to prevent it from staining his pants. Despite years of consumer research, the pharmaceutical firm hadn’t known about the staining problem. That photo prompted the company to change the product and its communications about the ointment, creating significant value for the firm.

If the firm had developed a journey map of how their customers use their product then they would have they would have learned about staining and many more insights that could improve current products and provided new ideas for new products and services.

Journey maps reveal what your customer’s go through to accomplish their goals. They tell the story of your customer’s experience from beginning to end with your products and services to:

  1. identify where experience degrades for your customer (and they leave)
  2. identify where you delight them (and they stay)
  3. identify new opportunities (to grow)

Data is great to tell you what your customers are doing but to gain insight into what they are thinking and feeling, try a journey map.